A lot of days of LOVE and no blogging

I’ve been busy. I got a new job. I’ve been house hunting. Sometimes LOVE takes a back seat. That’s always been the problem. Still a struggle.

Things I’ve been thinking about though: In the wake of another mass shooting, and the political opinions that abound after LOVE (is patient and kind) is hard. LOVE (keeps no record of wrongs, always hopes) is hard too. But LOVE never fails.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what LOVE is,  and how much it challenges me to the core. I’ve been struggling with the desire to escape reality and become entrenched in the make believe of TV or stories. I want to bad to not be faced with the need to LOVE in hard times. To LOVE neighbors who are hurting, to LOVE enemies that cause pain, to LOVE people who fail. I fail too often at LOVE.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and LOVE. But the greatest of these is LOVE.

– 1 Corinthians 13:12-13

I have no patience for the meantime. I want to see fully, to understand fully. I want to know completely. But that isn’t for me now. For now, what I do have is faith, hope and LOVE. I must LOVE with all that I am, and take every opportunity to learn and grow in LOVE.

These days are hard. They feel so uncertain. Yet, I have hope. And I will cling to it. I will cling to faith, hope and LOVE for they are enduring and they are the promise of the Spirit. They are the promise in the meantime, as the glimpse of something eternal and unshakable.

I have been prayer-less recently. My heart is so hard and stubborn. I have been without the very lifeblood my soul needs– connection to God. And tonight as I was becoming more and more enraged at the state of the world and the responses to tragedy I found myself quoting the LOVE verses. LOVE is patient and kind. LOVE isn’t proud and doesn’t envy and doesn’t boast. It is slow to anger. LOVE keeps no record of wrongs. LOVE delights in the truth…. (that was from memory, which is spotty, so forgive any missing/fumbled pieces). And none of the responses that I had to the situation at hand reflected in any way what LOVE is. So I stopped myself. And I sought out this journey instead. Growing in  LOVE. Seeking LOVE. Maybe that in itself is a sign of progress.

Dear God,

Things seem bad down here. Remind us of your great LOVE and your great grace. For we need that, and we need you, so desperately. Fill me with LOVE that I may respond to anger and hatred wherever I find it with grace and LOVE. That I may reflect you in any setting, in any circumstance, because I would be so filled with your Spirit and who you are. I LOVE you and am grateful that you know me and LOVE me anyway. You are a good Father. 

In the name of Jesus. Amen

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Day 15-18: Love never fails…

I may have already claimed this, but this is my favorite piece of the LOVE is… verses. LOVE never fails. There is something about my human understanding that cannot grasp this, but LOVE doesn’t fail. it doesn’t give up. it doesn’t stop.

I feel like I’ve been to busy recently to focus on LOVE. My journey into the Fruit of the Spirit is only beginning and already I’m finding distraction and disinterest setting in. But I visited my dad today. I have such mixed feelings every time I go to visit him. I’m scared, and sad and a little hopeful. I LOVE him, but I don’t know how to make that clear to him, and I believe he LOVES me, but he seems unable to show me that as well. But I keep going. Not because I’m great and I LOVE well, but because God has showed me a LOVE that doesn’t stop when things are hard. It doesn’t just call it quits when it gets to be too much.

So I had a nice visit with my dad. We made awkward small talk and then when it stalled I left. I hugged him and said I’d be back soon and we told each other we LOVED the other. And I am sure we meant it. I wish it didn’t feel so hard, and I wish I knew how to talk to him in a meaningful way, but I’ll keep at it. Because LOVE never fails.

My journey through learning to lean on the Spirit, learning to accept and live out the gifts of the Spirit is so important. It is the thing that will make my efforts with my dad and my family successful. Because I need to learn how to LOVE. And I need God to teach me that. And I’m better than I was, but still it seems so hard most days. LOVE is hard. LOVING someone who doesn’t seem to want to work on your relationship is such a challenge. But God has called me for a challenge, and he promises to equip me for it. I must lean on Him and learn from Him if I am to stand a chance.

 

LOVING God,

You know my struggles. And you promise that we have a High Priest that understands and sympathizes with our struggles. I ask that you give me persistence in LOVE. Teach me strong and enduring LOVE. Teach me the LOVE that never fails, that I may show that level of LOVE, that hopeful, faithful LOVE, to those who you have put in my life. Please especially help me to LOVE my earthly father well, as you have given him to me and asked me to honor him. Thank you for the work you are doing in my life and in his. 

I love you and pray in your son Jesus name. Amen. 

Days 13 & 14: the patience of LOVE

Oh man. I just re-read 1 Corinthians 13. And these 2 lines stuck out from a very long couple of days…

LOVE is patient… it is not easily angered. 

-1 Corinthian 13:4-5

If you are familiar with the verses you’ll notice that there are some missing phrases in between, but these are the two that are being worked on in me even as I type this.

I’m being stretched thin in a house full of chaos. Kids that do not listen, or settle down, seemingly ever. Constantly there seems to be a reason to get frustrated– they are young and they are still learning and pushing, and it is hard. I can’t always remember to keep my cool, and I can only imagine how their parents have done it for so long.

I think it must be sort of like that with God and I. He must grow really tired of me throwing a fit when things don’t go my way. He must get frustrated when he knows what is good for me but I insist on doing the wrong thing. He must feel so annoyed when I don’t do as he asks, repeatedly. But LOVE is patient. He is patient. He shows me, teaches me, and lets me learn at my own pace, never giving up that I will grow up and become who He has called me to be.

And when the house settled down and the kids were finally asleep I started browsing my social media feeds. Of course to find some of the most ridiculous political and religiously offensive views out there. I just cannot understand people sometimes. And as I felt my blood pressure rising the rest of that quote from 1 Corinthians came into my head- LOVE is not easily angered.  Oh Boy. I am very easily angered. I get so caught up in things sometimes that I almost explode. I really don’t have much of a temper. Just internal rage. And tonight I was seething. I kept thinking how stupid and awful all these people are. Many of them are my friends outside of social media. I just kept getting more and more worked up. But LOVE is not easily angered. Because it is patient, and kind, and it isn’t proud, and it doesn’t envy.

God is so patient, and kind and doesn’t get caught up in petty things because he isn’t proud or envious. He may have righteous anger, but He is not easily angered. And I am thankful, because I am sure that for the past 2 days I’ve probably been pressing that issue more than is wise.

God,

Thank you for your patience and kindness. Thank you that you are slow to anger, and quick to LOVE and show grace. I am grateful for your great LOVE and the way that you are teaching me to be a person of LOVE. Fill me with that patient LOVE that I may be able to show LOVE and grace to those who are difficult. Fill me with your Spirit who gives and teaches LOVE. Thank you. 

In Jesus name I pray, Amen. 

Day 12: LOVED anyway

I’ve spent the last few years trying to figure out how to be a vulnerable person. Maybe that sounds funny- but I was raised to be always performing. I am strong, and brave and nothing can hurt or scare me– at least that is what I think I’m supposed to show people. But when I read the Bible, and when I come across people who seem to be living right lives, I am convinced that LOVE is vulnerable, because vulnerability is human and authentic.

But I still very much struggle, putting yourself out there. Fully, really, and asking people to accept you for you. That is crazy terrifying.

And this is going to be a sloppy transition, but I think that is the closest I can come to beginning to understand the timing of God’s plan.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

-Romans 5:8

Like I said, sloppy. God isn’t insecure, he isn’t hoping we like Him. But it was that crazy, authentic LOVE that said, no matter what the response is I am taking this chance. I will offer you a rescue in the way that I can, and you get to decide if I’m worth it.

And that is where things stand. God so LOVED that He gave and we get to respond. And I think about LOVE and God, and I try to relate it to how I LOVE. I LOVE so incomplete and inauthentic. I will walk away when things get hard, and He will enter into the mess to clean it up. I will ignore and neglect and He will work and fix.

We were still sinners, still focused on ourselves and our own disasters. He came anyway. He LOVED anyway. He said I will offer a chance, a hope. And He did.

He ‘demonstrated’ His LOVE for us- and now we have a chance to learn from that teaching and respond. To LOVE Him, to LOVE others. The people around us are the same sinners He came to save. They are just as broken and imperfect as we are. And He LOVED them enough too.

Pretty amazing stuff. I have insufficient understanding to realize just how amazing. So I’ll just keep relating to it the best I know how. As He gives me more understanding. And more LOVE.

Father,

Thank you. Fill me with your LOVE and help me to live authentically from it. You have been so generous and bold in your LOVING. I have so often been so cowardly and insecure in mine. Forgive me and help me to do better. Thank you that I don’t have to stay who I have been. You make all things new, and I know that you are making me new. Fill me with your Spirit and change me. 

In the name of Jesus I pray, AMEN. 

Day 11: LOVE is noisy

I’m staying with my sister, her husband, and their 2 smart and energetic 8 year old boys. Understand, for the past decade I have lived alone. I have a dog, and a TV, but I have really very little noise and activity in my daily life.

So, for now life has gotten very noisy. And sometimes it feels too overwhelming or chaotic for me. And I think, wow, they must hate their lives. But then I start to see something deeper and more real than I understand. When you LOVE people, you can handle so much more than you would think. My sister and her husband are worn out, a lot, but I don’t think they’d trade in those boys for anything. And after watching the boys throw a fit or get all wound up, they still push past the frustration and LOVE them. It’s weird.

But it is all a microcosm of the LOVE God has for us. God LOVES us, despite us. And when we screw up again and again, he still somehow looks at us with LOVE.

I think it has something to do with this:

LOVE keeps no record of wrongs- 1 Corinthians 13:5

There are plenty of things I don’t understand about God and about LOVE, but this is the one that I cannot understand at all.

How can anyone, even the most divine, keep no record of my mistakes or screw-ups. Sometimes you glimpse a little of that understanding when you watch a parent so gently LOVE a child that has been a pain in the neck all day long. But I still wonder, at what point do you have enough?

 

Dear Father, 

Thank you that you do not keep a record of my wrongs. That you, being LOVE itself, have the grace to forgive and forget. I am sorry that I test that so severely. Please continue to teach me LOVE, and help me to see it and live it more and more. Thank you for the object lessons in my life– the view of a parents LOVE, the innocence of a child’s LOVE. Continue to build these things in me and open my heart to accept the LOVE that surrounds me and to give it to any and all who need. 

Thank you, in Jesus name I pray. Amen. 

4 Days for the price of 1 (Days 7-10)

So these past several days have been a bit hectic. I spent Saturday and Sunday on the road and yesterday and today trying to unpack and settle in. It’s official: I’ve moved to Minnesota.

Days driving in solitude are perfect opportunities to think and pray (and listen to good tunes). Some thoughts about LOVE came to me:

LOVE is very important to be noticed in the here and now. I’ve just spent some wonderful time with people I LOVE very much, but the whole time I was there I was mentally checked out. As soon as I was driving away I realized I could never get that time back. And it was precious, and I am so glad I had it, I just wish I would’ve noticed it more.

Also I had a great opportunity to remember that it is important to not just know you LOVE somebody, you need to make sure that somebody really knows it too. I have this idea of myself as a thoughtful person, and what I’ve realized is that I am really thoughtful– it’s just that my thoughts rarely turn into words or actions. It isn’t enough to think about wonderful things to say or do for someone. It is important to carry through on those thoughts and let people know how much you LOVE them.

I saw my dad today. I LOVE him. I hope at some point he can realize how much. How worthwhile I think he is. Hope I really someday get the courage to express that to him in a way he might get.

Okay, well that is rambly and I’m sorry. I’m still tired and trying to get thoughts together in my head. I just didn’t want to miss another night of blogging. Somehow this verse ties into these thoughts, (but I’ll have to piece that together when I’m in my right mind)

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Galatians 5:13  

 

Holy Father,

You have led me on a journey and I don’t know exactly what I’m doing. But I pray that your Spirit would dwell in me and lead me on. Give me the LOVE that you have promised so that I might LOVE others well. Prepare my heart for all that I might encounter, that I may live a life that spreads the grace, LOVE, and peace that you have poured out for your children. Help me to see your LOVE in action, help me to be your LOVE in action. 

In the name of Jesus, AMEN. 

Day 6: LOVE is action

So, the real reason for my new adventure has to do with family that I’ve never been very close with. Specifically my dad. He and I have never had a strong relationship, and I’ve always been pretty sad about that fact. But he’s not a bad guy, just an emotionally distant one.

He also isn’t in the best of health. He had a stroke almost 20 years ago now, and for the past 3-4 years his health has really started to decline. He now resides in a nursing home.

So one day I was hearing a conversation about how a daughter quit her job to move home to take care of her father- and in that moment I knew I was supposed to move half way across the country to be closer to my dad (I will not be taking care of him- he’s in a good place and I need to work). So I set about getting things in order in California and sold my condo, quit my job and am moving to Minnesota.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth.

-1 John 3:18

LOVE is action. I believe that and I am trying to obey and act out of LOVE. And it is scary because what if that LOVE is not returned. I know that I have no control over that. I know that reciprocating LOVE cannot be my motivation. But I’m still so scared.

And what if I move halfway across country and I still can’t say the things I need to say, or be present the way I need to be. There is so much of my dad in me. So much detachment, so many walls and barriers.

The famous passage in 1 Corinthians 13 tells us all of what “Love is..” but I think the one that I’m trying to learn right now is “Love always trusts”. Do I believe that God will see me though what He is calling me to? Do I believe that the Spirit will fill me with love and with the right words and the right actions? Do I believe? Do I trust?

If I had LOVE then the answer is an easy yes.. because LOVE always trusts. And LOVE also always hopes. And here I am, walking where I am not sure, acting where I feel unsteady. May my hope lead to trust. May my actions help lead me to LOVE.

 

Father,

I am unsure and scared, but I am called to trust in you, to hope in you. May my LOVE be deep enough to hold that trust and that hope. May my actions be bold and my LOVE be evident for all who encounter me. Prepare me for the task you set before me. Prepare the hearts of those who you would call me to be present with. Teach me to LOVE them, to LOVE them with the LOVE you have for them. Fill me with the Spirit and may I be filled with the fruit of LOVE. 

In Jesus name, AMEN